A change in Princes is the Joy of Fools. ~ Old Romanian Proverb
There is no cause so noble that it will not attract at least a few idiots. ~Larry Niven

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Timing is everything

My Mommy says . . . .
I must be psychic.  I posted a blog entry that dealt with my buddy, my old NYC pal Charles "Fauntleroy" Schumer;  leading Donkey strategist, guiding light, bomb thrower and Momma's Boy. One of the things I mentioned was that he perpetually throws around the sobriquet "extreme right-wing" whenever he speaks about even the mildest, most centrist political opponent, and the next day he gets caught on tape pretty much agreeing with me.   He's been doing it for decades.  He has NEVER in his entire life held an honest job; although a Harvard trained lawyer, a member of the Bar, he has never practiced law.  This is a guy who got a perfect 1600 SAT score, went to Harvard as an undergraduate and then on to the Law School. He's extremely bright, he ran for the New York State Assembly right out of college and won at age 23, and he has never, not ever, lost an election.  He has been in Washington since 1981, and for you Donkeys that means thirty years.  

Hence, Schumer  the Tumor, the persistent cancer that continues to grow on the American body politic.  He won't go away folks; Chuckie can't DO anything else.  Like Quaddafi, like Saddam, like Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe--there is no AFTER for The Tumor, no Plan B, no Part II.  Truthfully, he doesn't much want to go away.  If he wanted to be a Governor of New York, he would have run already.  But Schumer knows his perfect place:  making laws at the national level.  Telling YOU, people who live in disparate parts of the US, how to live, what to eat, how many and what sort of firearms you can own.  

He's the quintessential  effete, urban Progressive.  He hears the call, he knows what he must do.   And . . . he knows he has to fool most of you into accepting what he wants.  He's been a champion on Obamacare, he's switched sides three times on the financial crisis, he's big in consumer product regulation.  And of course, the Senate Judiciary Committee, where that "right-wing extremist" Molotov cocktail gets used frequently.  After all, when you are gutting the Constitution in the Legislature you cannot afford to have some judge with an unhealthy affection for that ancient document scuttle your plans.

Schumer is pretty hawkish on defense, but you have to appreciate  the delicacy of that position.  First, he's from New York City, Brooklyn to be specific.  He still lives there with his family.  As a fellow City boy, I cannot adequately convey the utter shock, horror and outrage that natives felt when those murderous animals flew planes full of human beings into buildings full of human beings.  Schumer was married at Windows on the World, a great restaurant at the apex of the North Tower of The World Trade Center.  My wife took me there to celebrate my MBA, but I worked across the street for Bankers Trust for years and it was my favorite place to take visitors for the panoramic views of New York and the harbor. [BT got eaten by Deutsche Bank and my building was itself later a casualty of the WTC collapse, declared uninhabitable and finally succumbing to fire some years after]  I went to a small, all-male Jesuit high school in Chelsea.  Xavier is coming up on it's second century and 25 alums were listed as casualties of 9/11.  If my life had zigged instead of zagged, I could have been up there watching a passenger jet speed headlong into my desk.

The second thing you have to understand about Schumer on defense is Israel.  Schumer is Jewish, much of his original and current core constituency are Jewish.  Support for Israel is the sine qua non of  politics in NYC and for a Jewish politician, well it comes with the briss.  Support for our staunchest ally in the Middle East is something I can enthusiastically get behind, I've been to Israel, it's a wonderful country.   I have no doubt his position is sincere, he gets a little heated when talking about it.  In speaking of Palestinian Arabs in Gaza, he told an audience that "Palestinian people still don't believe in the Jewish state, in a two-state solution, they don't believe in the Torah, in David . . . . you have to force them to say Israel is here to stay."  So much of his support for the War on Terror is informed by those two points.  

And being meddlsome with laws is just in his nature.

This is Schumer's niche in life, he's happy doing what he does.  Well, "happy" may be too extravagant a term as Chuck Schumer usually looks so sour it's as if he were weaned onto solid food by sucking lemons and never quite recovered from the experience.  Chuck Schumer smiling is a terrifying sight to behold, the kind of expression a prison warden attending  a state execution might give the condemned as he whispers "this is gonna hurt."   He's the Democratic Policy Committee Chairman and he is at the apex of his power in Washington; if you doubt for a second that he is one of the leading figures championing the aggressive stance of the Donks in confronting the drive to reduce federal spending, then I have some wonderful beachfront property in Japan that I can get for you at a bargain.

I'm a Payload Specialist
I started this series of posts about Bill Nelson, the Senior (and next ex-) Senator from Florida and let me reiterate the connection:  ASTRO BOY and Donks like him are important for men like Schumer to shove their Progressivist world view down your unsuspecting maws.  They provide cover.  I caught Nelson on C-Span the other night speaking in the Senate.  I managed to stay awake.  That men's-store-mannequin spouted every Donkey platitude about who they are protecting and who the real villains in America are, how the everything is going to be wonderful.  

For example, he whined on about oil companies not paying royalties to the US for oil from leased Federal lands.  Well---Bill---if memory serves, you had a 60-seat majority in Congress, a majority in the House and a President in the White House for two damn years.  Why didn't YOU do something about it?

Nelson also trotted out the now-standard Donkey diatribe against corporations that don't pay taxes.   YAWN.  Ditto for this one too, Bill, where where you and your fellow Donks?   On a junket paid for by GE, maybe, one of the biggest tax avoiders of all but also former owner of a few lovely broadcast networks that just happen to support the Democrats in almost everything they do?  

Is there anyone out there who doesn't understand that whatever taxes a corporation has to pay it passes along to it's customers in the form of higher prices.  I guess there are.  No, competitive pricing won't help you; taxes are imposed across all competitors so they will ALL raise their prices.  Or some will go out of business and you will have fewer choices and, oh yes, the survivors will raise prices because they can!  

But that's the dirty little secret::  The Donks in Congress and the White House KNOW all this, so when they rail on about raising taxes on corporations and the great unwashed cheers and thrusts fists in the sky, they are really setting themselves up to be the ultimate taxpayer.  The Donks in Congress have just wiped off their fingerprints. 

Yes, I do moisturize . . . .
Folks in Florida, remember what Nelson says.  Remember in whatever state you live the next time you are tempted to vote for that nice person with the Jackass button on their suit lapel.  The 2010 elections knocked off a lot of the moderate Donks, leaving the screedy shrill ones like Maw Pelosi in place.  But for all intents and purposes there are NO moderate Democrats in Congress anymore.  They cannot vote that way with the hard lefties in all the senior positions.  

Remember what all those who did not buck the Progressives said when there was time to do something about it.   Remember and think for yourselves.

Now, now, I know best!
My memory works just fine.  I remember what has happened in the world during my life and what I thought about it at the time.  I need no one to help me remember history through the prism of political spin.  I remember who promised what, who tried to call attention to problems, who shouted them down and why.  And I'll tell you that the problems we are facing TODAY have been brewing for years, that there were plenty of warnings, that many of the Donks in power now were around then and screaming against solutions.

And here's a little video that does a GREAT job explaining it for those that are numerically impaired.

Monday, March 28, 2011

More On Nelson

[For the first part of this story, go here

I know some readers are going to think I am am picking on Bill Nelson far in excess of what he himself deserves.  He's a good guy, he's a family man, he rode on the Space Shuttle, he's personable.  He's the man every guy strives to be and every woman wants to marry.  A leader, a lawyer, a legislator.  From his campaign website:

From time to time, Bill gets asked where he gets the energy and determination to stand up and keep fighting. He says it comes from being an optimist and believing things will get better for all people. It's an optimism that comes from faith, from family and from his belief in individual responsibility. It's why Bill Nelson is optimistic for the future of Florida and our nation.
That's just so beautiful!  It's so hopeful, so positive.  It belies anything a person who observes him and thinks clearly and for himself would deduce from Nelson's conduct in office; but Geez, don't you just wish it were true!

See, this has always been my problem with the Donkeys; and it's their secret weapon; one of their most powerful.  Individually, the Donks can sometimes come off as salt-of-the-Earth, fairly conservative people in their personal outlook, demeanor and lifestyle.  They go to Church, they may hunt or fish, they read to the vision-impaired and they show up at Habitat for Humanity.  They never miss a State Fair, and make sure the press knows what soup kitchen they'll be working in next Thanksgiving.  They fit into their communities, they have to to get elected.  The problems start when they get to Washington.

Get lost, bitch, I'm on the phone.
For most of my life, the Donks have been moving farther and farther to the left.  Self-important Senator from New York, Charles Schumer  (The Tumor), is a leading strategist behind many of the DNC's policy and publicity initiatives [not to mention my personal choice for Biggest Momma's Boy in Congress] and regularly trots out the "extreme right-wing" label, no matter how mildly centrist the object of his vituperation, more so even than Van Jones uses "racist."   Neither label has any particular meaning except to rouse somnolent Donks who wait to hear the right boogey words which impell them into action.  Think of them as Manchurian Constituents, ready to board buses and shout slogans and carry signs thrust into their hands when they hear certain phrases that have been programmed into their small brains.

So you vote for the mainstream guy, but you get the rabid Equine.  He's the beard the Party wears to gain a majority.  You vote for Bill Nelson, you get Schumer the Tumor.  You vote for Bill Nelson, you get Harry Reid.  You vote Nelson, you get Barbara Mikulski.  You get Dick Durbin. You get Barbara Boxer.  When he gains enough seniority, you'll get Al Franken, too.

This is the Howard Dean Donkey Party.  It isn't going to change.  Well, it will, but the days of the more centrist Democratic Leadership Council are long gone.  It's getting more and more left-wing. For those of us who watched the Democratic Primaries in 2008, there were tell-tale clues.  The Eastern hard left Donks were chafing under the more Centrist Clintons and their pet DNC chairman, Terry McAuliffe.  But the Clintons brought in the donations as no one else in the party at the time could, so the Clintons called the tune and the rest of the party capered about obediantly.  That doesn't mean they liked it.

Dean is another story.  Dean can, through a TV screen, palpably radiate  his insane hatred for Republicans and by extension, for the American traditionalism and values they represent. You could cook a Cornish game hen in the radiance of Dean's venomous tirades when he unleashes them.

Weiner goes on the attack.
[And speaking of  politicians that go rabid from time to time, every Pubbie's favorite Democrat-to HATE-Anthony Weiner.  Would it surprise you to learn that Weiner learned from the Master, the aforementioned Chuck Schumer?  Weiner was an aide to Schumer when The Tumor was in the House, trying to have gun dealers in Wyoming regulated as though they were selling to recently-escaped convicts in Rego Park or drug merchants along Woodhaven Boulevard. After serving on the City Council in New York, Weiner ran for Schumer's House seat in 1999 as The Tumor was trading up to bring his own special brand of poison into the World's Greatest Deliberative Body.  Weiner has never gotten less than 59% of  the vote in 5 elections, so that's why the little putz is always so smug.  I come from Queens, Jackson Heights specifically; I know the area Weiner represents.  Gilbert Gottfried could get elected there, bad taste jokes and all.]

"Ja think I'm a cowboy!"

When Mr Obama came along, and showed he had a talent for putting money together and for putting a highly-effective grassroots coalition in play and using the Internet as well, out went the centrists.  I knew Mrs Clinton's was done in January 2008, when Ted Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama. Ted's signature issue throughout his career had been health care, which is also strongly associated with Hillary and wasn't with Obama at that time.  Maybe Ted never forgave her for screwing it up so badly during the Clinton years, which she undoubtedly did, leaving the Republicans in charge of both the Senate and the House during most of the final years of his life.  Kerry-the-Sailor-Man had already endorsed Mr Obama.  Others followed suit.  Maybe the entire caucus resented her for Bill Clinton's turn to "Triangulation" as an act of self-preservation, saving his own Presidency by essentially abandoning the Congressional Democrats.  The Donks had won big in the 2006 mid-term elections, a sign that the country  was turning away from the political center.  Hillary was toast, and the Donkeys were in full gallop Leftward for the general election.  The Donks had had their fill after sixteen years of Clintons.

The leftward lurch of the US continued through the 2008 elections, helped along by the economic downturn,  mortgage banking implosion, TAPR and Detroit bailouts and calls for subsidies for many industries as long as the subject was on the table.  When Republicans start tossing around collectivist cures to economic and societal woes, they are going to lose out to the party that always prefers socialist solutions.

The Donkeys do have a critical weakness that victory in politics brings out. The Party leadership and their camp followers in the media, in academia, in the blogosphere and in the left-leaning nonprofits are horrifyingly, excruciatingly, condescendingly elitist. Not in the Old Money sense of the word, but a self-appointed elitism based on acceptance of the model and forms of Progressivism. They are just smarter than anyone else. University trained, good grades in all the "right" subjects, a solid career in public service or it's close private analog. Aware of the tragedies and foibles of their unenlightened fellow humans, they hear a call the unworthy are deaf to, a sublime summons to organize mankind for the sake of mankind.  Even if it's against the will of mankind.  So for the greater good of mankind it is necessary to hoodwink mankind.  They know they are worthy, they are special, they are better because they hear that call and others do not.

So generally speaking, the Donks begin to steamroller their visions.  Whether the Bill Nelson's of the party are truly with them ideologically or not doesn't matter.  They had better toe the line, to vote as the party demands.  Having a political party at the national level at all means you are going to have to accept compromise as a fact of life and vote en masse when your leadership makes a case for it; that's life in politics.  But when the Leftist Donkeys take the bit in their teeth that dynamic changes, and the more moderate Democrats become true party "backbenchers,"  with radicalized, redistributionist reformers out to remake this "zero-sum" world.  And the Republicans become, well "What Republicans?"

The rank and file Donks and the rest of the public would probably rebel if the full extent of the corrective surgery were revealed.  So they obfuscate, they generalize, they retreat behind carefully crafted phrases that seem to fall from the lips of every Donk caught out where a reporter can question them, simulatenously and verbatim; bromides that reveal nothing except the inner goodness of the speaker and his Party.

They went too far post 2008.  No jobs materialized from that orgy of pork and debt known as The Stimulus Package.  Businesses surprisingly (to anyone who did not study the 1930s and New Deal), un-patriotically, did not expand and hire more employees in the wake of new taxes and new regulations being tweeted and emailed from Speaker Pelosi high above Planet Earth in her US Government Gulfstream.

And then The Horror began.   A self-organizing group of people aghast at the extent of government growth being promulgated started to show up at what the Donks thought were going to be routine dog-and-pony Town Hall meetings about the health care proposals and ask unplanted questions.

Moreover, they demanded answers and just would not be shut-up, put off or put down.  And the more the elitists tried to dismiss them, the more they came back and with greater intensity.  The elites made the mistake of writing it off to racism, or fear of the unknown, or religious intoxication, anything but what it really was.  A spontaneous, grassroots rebellion against everything the Progressives hold dear, everything the leadership of the Democrat Party has become in the last several decades.

And anyone who kicks Arlen (Scottish Law) McSpecter  around earns a warm spot in my heart.

More to come . . . . 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

ASTRO BOY comes out of the closet . . . shoves reporter in.

It wasn't enough that Senior (soon to be "ex-") Senator from Florida Bill Nelson abrogated all responsibility to the future of the nation by voting against HR 1, the Continuing Budget Resolution for Fiscal Year 2011.  Maybe he thinks that, since he'll be 69 in September, he shouldn't have to worry about the future.  He's got his; between what he earned as a Yalie lawyer, whatever business interests he has (and he does, rest assured) and his retirement from stints as a Florida state legislator, US Representative and now Senator, he'll be ok. You may not be, but he will.  Maybe his lack of concern for the future is because he knows 17 percent of Florida's population is over age 65 (vs. 13 percent in the entire US) and probably doesn't care about tomorrow either. [A bet I wouldn't take, they have children and grandchildren]  Or maybe it's because only 80 percent of adults have a high school education, 22 percent have any college degree and 23 percent report speaking a language other than English at home.  (All of the above here.)  It could be a cynical calculation that the people who have voted for his nice-guy-aw-shucks demeanor over and over and over are just too stupid to realize what an absolutely useless tool he has become.

Or perhaps always was.

"Fly me to da moon . . . ."
If you go to Bill Nelson's official Senate webpage, you can see some of the committees and subcommittees he sits on.  Nelson is Chairman of the Science and Space Subcommittee (duh!)  Nelson sits on the Aging Committee (also duh!), Intelligence Committee (no, that's too easy), Commerce Committee, Finance Committee and Budget Committee.  There's utterly no excuse for Nelson to be as nonchalant about the financial crisis the US Government finds itself in with the perspective those committee responsibilities force upon him.  Yet he is.

For example, Nelson has bragged continuously that he opposes drilling for oil and gas off the Florida coast. What that does when replicated in state after NIMBY state is to drive drilling rigs out into the deepwater where blow-outs are harder to handle.  While Nelson could have represented Floridians who suffer from having to pay more to drive to their jobs, he becomes a thoughtless doorstop blocking discussion of a comprehensive energy policy for the largest energy market on the planet.  It raises the amount of money we ship out of the country (which get's lent back to us at interest).  It raises the cost of gasoline (although there's more to that story-later).  It empowers many regimes that have either been the most fair-weather of allies or outright hostile enemies.So what does Bill do?  He joins in with a bunch of the most left-wing Senators in writing to the Commodities Futures Trading Commission bemoaning the actions of speculators.  His co-authors are:
Joining Nelson on the letter are Sens. Maria Cantwell ( D-WA ), Barbara Boxer ( D-CA ), Al Franken ( D-MN ), Jeff Merkley ( D-OR ), Patty Murray ( D-WA ), Robert Menendez ( D-NJ ), Mark Begich ( D-AK ), John D. Rockefeller IV ( D-WV ), Carl Levin ( D-MI ), Barbara Mikulski ( D-MD ), Sherrod Brown ( D-OH ) and Bernie Sanders ( I-VT )
The Usual Suspects when something has to be done that left-wing elements in America don't want done (though most people do).

Nelson has been a big supporter of high-speed rail though.  Long after Florida's Governor Scott (and Jeb Bush before him) dismissed the boondoggle Federal subsidy for high-speed rail that would have generated cost overruns on construction and operating losses while running that Florida taxpayers would have to cover (but it would create lots and lots of public sector union jobs!!), Nelson was trying to make rain with it.  Nelson was pestering Amtrak to get involved.  How bad does it have to be when Amtrak sidesteps it?

Now Bill Nelson is feeling the steam from the hot water the Tea Party is boiling to brew up some more upsetting election results in 2012.  Nelson and his good buddy Biden are tossing reporters into closets to limit what they see and report at Donkey fundraising functions.  I'm sure you've read it, it's a story that is so rich, it's gone viral on blogs and in the Twittersphere.  It's also illustrative of how Machiavellian the Donks have become, and especially the piranha pool surrounding the Obama Administration.

Last Wednesday, Joe Biden attended another fund raiser held in Orlando at a private home (rich Donk, so read palatial estate).   There was one pool reporter allowed to attend to record the event and distribute his reportage.  According to the Orlando Sentinel:

Not looking for sympathy here, but the life of a political reporter isn’t all champagne and canapes. Consider our man Scott Powers, who was sent over to the Winter Park home of Alan Ginsburg this morning as the designated “pool reporter” — aka scribe — for the fundraiser where Vice President Joe Biden is appearing on behalf of U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.
 Turns out the veep hadn’t arrived, but about 150 guests (minimum donation $500) were already in the house. So to prevent Scott from mingling with the crowd, a member of Biden’s advance team consigned him to a storage closet — and then stood outside the door to make sure he didn’t walk out without permission. 
Scott e-mailed us this photo from his temporary prison. “Sounds like a nice party,” he wrote.
So exactly who was there that the reporter was not supposed to interview and report about?  What was discussed that inquiring ears might overhear?

Another take comes from Shane D'Aprile
"I need to make 8 points . . . ."
Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that if Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) loses his reelection race next year, it means President Obama and the Democratic presidential ticket won't win the key battleground state, either.

Headlining a fundraiser for the Democratic senator in Florida Wednesday, the vice president said the success of the presidential ticket in 2012 is directly linked to Nelson, telling supporters "as goes Bill Nelson in Florida, so go Barack Obama and Joe Biden in Florida," according to a pool report.

Biden was in the state to attend two events for Nelson on Wednesday, the first of which was a $500 per plate lunch attended by an estimated 150 donors.

"He's a truly, truly decent guy who has the absolute respect of his colleagues, and I've heard that from both sides of the aisle," Biden said of his former Senate colleague.

Actual footnotes from Biden's speech.
The vice president's visit marks the second high-profile event to benefit Nelson already this year. The Democratic is a top GOP target in 2012.

Earlier this month, Obama headlined a joint fundraiser in Florida, benefiting both the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Nelson's 2012 campaign. (empasis added)

If you think the goal was to raise the $75,000 the patrons paid for that lunch, that just covered the catering bill. Probably. It was a pretty pricey repast. According to what Drudge:
 They were busy noshing on caprese crostini with oven-dried mozzarella and basil, rosemary flatbread with grapes honey and gorgonzola cheese and bacon deviled eggs, before a lunch of grilled chicken Caesar and garden vegetable wraps.
Not so for Powers. A "low-level staffer" put Powers in a storage closet and then stood guard outside the door, Powers told the DRUDGE REPORT. "When I'd stick my head out, they'd say, 'Not yet. We'll let you know when you can come out.'"
And no crustini for Powers, either. He made do with a bottle of water to sip as he sat at a tiny makeshift desk, right next to a bag marked "consignment." Powers was closeted at about 11:30 a.m., held for about an hour and 15 minutes, came out for 35 minutes of remarks by Biden and Sen. Bill Nelson, Florida Democrat, and then returned to his jail for the remainder of the event.
At an event in Tampa with Biden and Nelson, a reporter from the St. Petersburg Times made the following observation:
Drudge and the blogosphere are lighting up over news that Joe Biden's team shut Orlando Sentinel reporter Scott powers in a storage closet so he couldn't talk with supporters at a $500-per-head fundraiser at the Winter Park home of Alan Ginsburg. He was the pool reporter for the event, and apparently the Veep's staff felt he should have no access to the mingling donors and only be allowed out when Nelson and Biden showed up. Nice.

 I was the lone pool for a Biden-Nelson fundraiser later that Wednesday afternoon at an Embassy Suites in Tampa. No closet for me, though I was kept stored in the lobby during the prelimaries. As as the main event started I was escorted toward a single chair in a corner, cordoned off by a roughly three-by-three velvet rope square. A Biden's staffer seemed too embarrassed to make me sit in it, though.
 But this is the "Most Transparent Administration" in history. Yup, they sure are.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

And the results are in . . . .

Today's email brought me responses from both my frosh Pubbie Congressman Rick Nugent and the next-ex Senior Senator from Florida, Bill Nelson.

Since I posted the contents of  my letters to both of them, I thought it fair and illustrative to post the replies from each.  I know they are canned and not personal, but it's interesting to note how the staffs' of each elected official approach exactly the same topic.

Let's start with Sheriff Rick:

Thank you for contacting me with your budget proposal. My job is to be your representative and voice in Washington and without hearing your ideas, I can't do that.

Our country is in dire straits right now. The financial problems facing our country are on the verge of crippling our entire economy. Many people don't realize the full extent of the problem. This year, we are running a $1.7 trillion deficit. Our entire discretionary budget – including the entire military – is only about $1.3 trillion. In other words, if we got rid of every single government agency from the Department of Education to the Department of Justice and on top of that decided not to have a military anymore, we'd still be running a $400 billion deficit. Unfortunately, balancing the budget isn't as simple as just cutting back around the edges.

For years, this problem has been swept under the rug by the media and by politicians in Washington. What we once thought was a crisis twenty years off is in fact already happening now. The President's own budget projects that interest payments on the national debt will be as big as Medicare by 2014 and bigger than the entire defense budget by 2018. Most people don't know that.

This is not just about saving the economy for our children and grandchildren anymore. This is about saving our economy now. If we do not fundamentally rethink our finances in Washington, everything we have come to expect will be at risk in a short period of time.

The House has started that process. Instead of debating how much to increases spending as we've seen over the last many years, we're now debating what and how much to cut. That is a fundamental change from just a few months ago.

As you know, after over 90 hours of debate, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, the Full-Year Continuing Appropriation Act of 2011. H.R. 1 cut billions of dollars from all types of discretionary spending and amounts to the single largest budget cut in our nation's history. Unfortunately, despite all his rhetoric about cutting the budget and his commitment to fiscal responsibility, President Obama threatened to veto the bill if it ever reached his desk.

The attitude taken by President Obama and Democrats in Congress, who voted against H.R. 1 unanimously, is completely out of touch with reality. Despite the fiscal situation we are in, they increased the non-defense, discretionary part of the budget by 23% in the last two years. Right now Congress needs to be following in the footsteps of the American people. The average citizen cannot print more money when they run out of funds, they must tighten their belts. And that is what the federal government should be doing.

We cannot fix the budget without your help. As I see it, it's your money we're talking about, you should have a say in how it's spent. To that end, it doesn't matter if you're calling, emailing, writing, or stopping by the office to visit, just keep in touch. The more people we get engaged, the better our ideas will be.

Richard Nugent
Member of Congress
Straight for the issues, no waffling.  Now here's Astro Boy's reply to me:

Thank you for sharing your views on the Federal budget and your support for the spending plan set forth by the House of Representatives in H.R. 1, the Continuing Budget Resolution for Fiscal Year 2011.

I voted against H.R. 1 because rather than blindly slash programs without taking the time to examine the consequences, I believe what we need are responsible solutions that can reduce the deficit and, at the same time, ensure economic opportunity for the middle class.

I have long been committed to getting Federal spending under control, going back to my support for a balanced budget in the 1980s. Last year I voted for an across-the-board cap on discretionary spending through 2014, and recently voted to ban earmarks for three years. Furthermore, I am a cosponsor to the Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act (S.102), which would establish a streamlined procedure for Congress to vote on discretionary spending cuts proposed by the President, much like a line-item veto.
Ultimately, I believe if we come together in a good-faith effort, and let go of partisan hang-ups, we can break this impasse. Even though we may disagree on this specific bill, I believe we share a common goal in reducing our overall debt. Please know that I will continue to look for common ground across the political divide that meets the needs of Florida and our nation.

Senator Bill Nelson

 "Res ipsa loquitur" is the Latin expression lawyers use, "the thing speaks for itself."  Except for ommitting a footnote to his web site, that's all he had to say about the future of this nation.

[BTW, Yalie lawyer Nelson gets a huge percentage of his campaign financing from--"anyone . . . anyone . . . Bueller!"--yes, law firms.

I love this part:   "I believe if we come together in a good-faith effort, and let go of partisan hang-ups, we can break this impasse."  Whenever Donkeys are in the majority, they talk about "will of the people" and "mandates" and steamroller their policies through.  But on the Wednesday following an Election Day defeat in  any race, they dust off "bi-partisan" and sentiments to that effect.  The truth is, I think if the Senate did not stand for re-election in staggered one-third increments, the Pubs would be in the majority there, too.  Astro Boy knows he's vulnerable here in Florida, so he's making nice noises, sounds that were utterly alien to his throat until last November's Object Lesson in humility.

I see something in Astro Boy's  future, a vision for 2012, a sign and a portent of things to come . . . .

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Comparisons Are Striking

Hey guys! Target acquired, there's Qaddafi!
Somewhere in the world, pigs are flying.  Don't ask me where, I cannot tell you.  Nor am I able to say whether they rocket through the air unaided like Krypto the Superdog or whether they have suddenly sprouted white, feathery avian wings to soar through the azure firmament, each a small, chubby Pegasus in flight.  I can only assert that they do, that they must!

I know this because something unprecedented is about to happen, a thing I thought impossible, and thus in need of signs and portents to harbinger its coming.  I am about to write something positive about Hillary Clinton.

I can hardly believe it myself, so poleaxed am I by this utterly alien desire.  But intellectual honesty is a quality we on the conservative side should cherish, encourage and practice.  Leave the Left in its tornado of random feelings to rage and emote.  Some of us have to act the adult in the room.

Even a Wisconsin SEIU thug public school teacher could probably discern that I am alluding to the ongoing crisis in Libya and our belated response to Quaddafi's murderous madness.  The rumblings from Libya started in mid-January, but were overshadowed by the attention the media was paying to Egypt.  And at first Quaddafi was exercising restraint in confronting the demonstrations and the stonings of government office buildings.  But anyone with half a brain knew that if Mubarak could turn his tame goons on the protesters, Quaddafi had the potential to be nightmarishly worse.

"It's a quarter  to 3  . . . ."
I worried about what Mr. Obama would do.  I don't see him as the kind of president who concentrates his policy-making on foreign affairs.  I've always seen him as more focused on the domestic agenda [more on this as time goes on].  But in the life of nations as in the lives of men, we often face exactly the challenges we are least prepared by temperament or experience to confront. Biden was wrong; well, actually he's frequently wrong, so I should be more specific. Biden was premature in his prediction that Mr. Obama would face an international crisis within six months, and the extra time Mr. Obama has gained does not seem to have helped his preparedness to meet the test when it finally rolled up to the White House portico.

He dithered a bit when open hostilities broke out.  [The Left hates that term, they prefer "careful consideration;" much the way Benedict Arnold might prefer his actions be described as "strategic realignment."]  I'll take the Administration at their word about concern for Americans still in country, so far as I am able.   But they tarried in doing so.  Things in Libya got hot, and  hotter, and then blistering.  The Chinese, the British, the Germans all sent warships as security for their evacuation efforts that took place on February 24 and 25 (and subsequently for the larger groups).  Our warships didn't arrive until a week later, and after our citizens were largely gone from Libya.  The remarkable thing about the delay being that we've had ships in the vicinity covering the Egypt crisis for weeks, so it was more about logic than logistics.  Finally, a month later Mr. Obama announces that Quadaffi has had his day and it's time for him to go.  I'd say we've left the territory of "consideration" and are in the very close vicinity of "dithering."

Frankly, I think Mrs Clinton would have handled it a little better were she in the Oval Office and not the KY Guy (and I am not referring to Kentucky).  Hillary is not even my eighth choice for President, but she's had firsthand experience in world affairs that Barack "Present!" Obama had never bothered to obtain while he was helping ACORN to get out the vagrant vote and enduring two decades of racist rants that he apparently didn't hear at Trinity United Church of Christ.  I can understand Mr Obama's desire to run away from comparisons to GW, but Mrs Clinton would not have let the pot simmer over as long as Mr Obama has just for appearances' sake.

[Hillary has never cared a whit about appearances as she understands her Equine constituents have a bottomless capacity to accept whatever they are told if framed as partisan rhetoric, and everything can be framed that way.]

Hillary Clinton had eight years in the White House, was abroad in a diplomatic capacity as First Lady, served in the Senate for eight years before becoming Secretary of State.  Say what you will about her taste for clandestine strongarm tactics (shhhh! don't say "blackmail") when applied domestically, it's almost refreshing to see her employ the same dirty tricks in the international arena in America's interests.

Apparently, Mrs Clinton has had enough of the "careful consideration."  In a CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer datelined March 16, 2011, Mrs. Clinton announced that she would not return as Secretary of State in an Obama second term; nor in any other role, nor would she seek the Presidency herself.   I know, I know, politicians can always be talked into doing something they desperately want to do "for the good of the nation"  and "at the call of the people."  But I have the sneaking suspicion she means it.  She's not retiring, a politician with her history really can't retire; they just eventually become irrelevant to everyone else's plans and their calls stop getting returned.  That won't happen to Hillary for a long time.

[I have a mental dialogue in my head now between Bill and Hillary wherein Bill keeps asking her to consider something to keep her busy and away from home:  "Gee, I'm sure we could talk Obama into a Federal judgeship, maybe even the Supreme Court, no more campaigning and that's a job you could have for the rest of your LIFE!"]

In the end, the hesitation, deliberation, whatever you want to call it, didn't much help Mr Obama.  The Arab League, lobbying group for the Thugs On Our Side have done their utterly predictable flip only to flop the other way, playing both sides of the Arab Street.  [Frankly, the way sentiments and pronouncements flow in that part of the world, I don't think there is an Arab Street, just an interconnecting network of Arab Traffic Circles.]    Paying more attention to the resolutions of the United Nations (Parliament of Thugs) than the US Congress has got his Lefty base up in his face, with prima ballerina Dennis Kucinich first up in the spotlight, taking his theatrically sad-faced moral outrage in front of as many cameras as he can find.

And he was not the only one in Congress.   And I have to admit, watching that fat fool Michael Moore turn on Obama and demand he return the Nobel Peace Prize is hilarious.  As to the Peace Prize, well easy come,  . . . .

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Time for the baby to grow up

A little bit more on the NPR scandal, now that it's worked it's way through the twittering ninnies that constitute the Mainstream Media. The major arguments I've been perusing go like this statement from Oregon Democrat Congressman Earl Blumenauer:

"As traditional news outlets lay off reporters and offer less coverage of important topics, public broadcasting is filling the gap, bringing critical news and information to communities across the country," Blumenauer added. "What's more, public broadcasting stations are the only source of free programming that educates our children rather than the many commercial stations simply trying to sell them products. Our communities, our workers and our children would be the true victims of any cuts to funding for public broadcasting."[1]

Road apples. I'll be the first to tell you that Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and other commercial television shows aimed at children are designed to hold kids' attention long enough for the high-pressure ads to brainwash the wee ones, who will in turn hector their parents for yet more toys. So what? Before you think I'm being too coldly capitalistic, go take a look at the Sesame Workshop. You know, the Big Bird people. You don't think that has become an enormously profitable enterprise with all the deals they have made over the forty-plus years since Oscar first popped out of his garbage can? "Well," you say, "Sesame Workshop is a non-profit organization. Says so right here." Someday, I'll get into that topic, but for now let's say that being a not for profit company does not mean "lacking lotsa cash." They have revenue streams from lots and lots of grubby, moneymaking enterprises paying them for the right to fashion toys, games, books, live shows,  etc. around their lovable characters. That's over and above the fees they are paid by PBS stations to broadcast the show.

Doom! DOOM!
[Actually, I recall a very edgy Nickelodeon cartoon show, Invader Zim, that I liked and it regularly made fun of exactly the scenario I described above. Although it was pulled for ratings declines, I harbor the sneaking suspicion that a network or advertising executive finally watched the show and saw Vasquez clearly lampooning broadcasters like Nickelodeon and their sponsors.]

 Being organized as a non-profit does not mean you are dealing with poor, dedicated idealists who would much rather live out some pure existence than prostitute their values to serve commercial ends. They may in fact be idealists, and some non-profit corporations may be in dire financial circumstances. However, being a non-profit just means you don't pay income taxes on what's left over from your revenues after you pay all your expenses and that you don't pay dividends to stockholders. One way you keep non-profits from not showing a profit is that you pay your executive staff VERY WELL. And whom do you think makes that call? Some of the most highly paid people in the world work for 501(c)3 corporations. And many of those entities get government funding.

And why are we conservatives so upset with the non-profit media outlets? Well, going back to the Brian Montopoli article I quoted above:

Eric Deggans, the media critic for the St. Petersburg Times who also contributes to NPR, said in an interview that he believes NPR makes a concerted effort to be fair in its news coverage. (Deggans stressed that his connection to the network made him less than impartial.)

"When it comes to their opinion shows and their commentary shows and stuff like that, they're focused on kind of a college educated audience," he said. "And they have a very tight focus on who their listenership is, and they're creating shows that speak to those people. I think sometimes people see that focus and they translate that into a liberal bias."

Put another way, we're ignorant and STOO-pid. Sound like anyone else you know of connected to the world of public broadcasting? And unlike Ron Schiller, Deggans IS on the content side of NPR. I live in the Tampa Bay area, the St. Pete Times is a local paper here and is not known for it's right-wing views.

The simple truth is that non-profits are ideologically-driven enterprises, and there is NOTHING wrong with that in my eyes. But they attract people motivated by those ideals and those people in turn seek out others similarly inclined. Ron Schiller did not get his job at NPR just because he liked the salary and the dental plan. He clearly bought into the mission statement. And the people who hired Schiller no doubt wanted to make sure he would fit well within their corporate culture. When he left, he was headed for another non-profit (and yeah, I know it was more about finding work in Aspen where he wanted to settle to be near a significant other, but he didn't go to work for a department store in Aspen). The condemnations of Schiller's candid opinions recorded by Project Veritas coming from his former colleagues as atypical examples of the attitudes of public broadcasting staffers reeks of sanctimonious hypocrisy. The circumstances are more akin to the scene in the film The Dirty Dozen wherein Lee Marvin chides Charles Bronson about his shooting of a deserter: "You only made one mistake: you let someone see you DO it!"

NOW he tells us!!
I defy anyone at NPR, PBS, or CPB to produce a single individual on the content side or in any part of their organizations that is in fact a real conservative. In fact, I think conservatives would object to working for these organizations for idealistic reasons of their own.

What?! David Brooks? Puh-leeze!

But there is another issue, one of fundamental fairness. It's one thing for a private, profit-making network to target a given demographic. That's a business decision and a risk they take that it will ultimately be profitable, that they will attract their target audience and that advertisers will want to reach that population segment. For all the sturm und drang liberal pundits and political opponents stir up about Fox News, people watch it of their own free will and advertisers choose to buy time. It's the same for the utter lunatics over at MSNBC, who do not even pretend that they are anything but rabid partisans of the Democrat party. It's the same story at any commercial network.   [And while I'm on the subject, the accusations leveled at Fox's alleged bias only demonstrate to me that journalists have become so self-satisfied with their liberal preconceptions that they lack any perspective of what constitutes fair reportage.]   When a public broadcaster skews its content to suit a narrow demographic, it is forcing the rest of the nation to subsidize the audience they serve. They cannot claim that they do it to target a favorable segment of the population for maximum ad revenues.  The only other reasons are that it suits the world view and political aspirations of its producers and its viewers.  If they are the kind of bi-coastal, university-educated, affluent professional that Eric Deggans alludes to above, then I see no reason why they should not bear all the costs of supporting public broadcasting directly, rather than coughing up the occasional funding-drive donation for bragging rights and a tote bag.

Well, let's talk a little about the finances for CPB, NPR, and PBS. I used the 2009 statement for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as that was all that was available. The PBS and NPR annual reports for 2010 includes the 2009 numbers, so I'll work with 2009 for all three entities.

Both NPR and PBS are essentially content providers or coordinators, they provide the radio (NPR) and the television (PBS) stations with a stream of programs that can be broadcast. NPR gets most of it's money from the network of 910 local radio stations in the broadcast system, which pay NPR for the programming it provides. NPR gets some of it's funding as grants from corporations and foundations, donations, income from its investments, and merchandising, about $60 million in 2009. Neither NPR nor CPB indicate how much is specifically from CPB, but NPR's web page indicates CPB is among the grant makers. NPR does not operate any radio stations itself, but it does operate the satellite distribution system for its programming. NPR also has a separate entity known as The NPR Foundation, a $250 million dollar endowment that distributes its income solely for the benefit of the NPR operating entity, although there are restrictions on certain amounts. [Ron Schiller was both President of the Foundation and also Vice President for Development (non-profit-speak for "fund raising") at NPR.]   In 2009, the Foundation distributed $15 million to NPR, roughly ten percent of NPR's total revenue that year. NPR's revenues from member stations were $2.7 million for dues and $63 million for programming fees. There is one final item identified as "Distribution Services" which totaled $11 million in 2009, and this is for fees paid by the member stations for use of the satellite network it operates. Therefore from it's total revenues of $152 million in 2009, $77 million came from member stations (about half).

[In 2003, NPR and The NPR Foundation  were the recipients of one of the largest single monetary donations to a cultural institution when the late Joan B. Kroc, widow of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc, left them $225 million.  Part of the bequest was put into the NPR Foundation to increase the endowment, much of it was used to expand operations and reduce fees to member stations.  So  Super Size with pride, you ignorant fatties! How's THAT! Michelle Obama?][2 and 3 and 4

PBS was the most weaselly of the three organizations' websites, in terms of being all pomp and puff and very cagey about where it puts the numbers and the details about its operations. In fact, other than the audited annual report (not easy to find), which tends to give out gross numbers and no details, they are not forthcoming with anything approaching the level of information that both CPB and NPR do. According to the CPB report [backed up by Wikipedia] there are about 354 television stations it funds, presumably the bulk are PBS stations. PBS distributes programs to the member stations, but does not have a central production facility of it's own. It commissions some productions; co-produces programs with other entities, including some of the larger member stations (eg, WGBH in Boston, WNET in New York City); and buys programming from entities such as the Sesame Workshop or American Public Television. In addition to colleges, some PBS member stations are owned by state or local governments (and get funding from them) and others may be organized into statewide "subnetworks."[5]

About three-fourths of the radio stations in the NPR network are operated by colleges and draw part of their support from the schools. Many NPR stations are also co-located and jointly operated with PBS television stations, but thanks to PBS, I can't determine how many nor whether they are also at colleges.  The individual public radio and television stations may also get grants from corporations and foundations.   I have no figures in that regard as my focus was on the Triumvirate.

[Here in Tampa, WUSF is both a PBS TV station and an NPR radio station, located on the campus of the University of South Florida (Go Bulls!) Additionally, USF has acquired a second radio station, WSMR, which it plans to use as an NPR station servicing the Sarasota area.][6]

In 2009, PBS received $200 million from member stations for programming and other services. Grants and contributions (including unspecified CPB grants) were $55 million, royalties and video rights of $55 million, $16 million in other services, losses from investment activities of -$53 million and something identified as "Imputed value of donated broadcast rights" of $229 million, for total revenue of $503 million in 2009.

However, the imputed income is an accounting adjustment for the value of programming ultimately acquired by PBS but paid for by direct grants from other entities. Think of it this way: Someone buys a car and gives it to you as a gift. You spent no cash, but you got something of value, so you recognize the value of the gift as income that year.  Whether to include this in their total revenue or not is problematical because I do not know how much of the third-party money was from CPB, or from member stations who get funding from CPB. To be conservative, I'm going to treat it all as non-CPB money. Therefore, from total revenue of $503 million, member fees constitute $200 million or forty percent.

[Oh BTW, perusing the expense side, how about the $41 million PBS spent in this category: "Promotion – Represents institutional and program promotion and press efforts intended to increase awareness of the value of public television . These activities provide public television stations with a broad array of promotional support, including on-air promotional spots, print and radio advertising, press support and the coordination of public television’s educational message and positioning." (emphasis added) I smell some $avings][7-pg.13]

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is the recipient of the large direct grant from the Federal government among the three entities, $400 million in 2009. There were also Federal grants labeled "Radio Interconnection" of $27 million and "Digital," of $35 million, which were targeted for specific upgrades to the both radio and television broadcast technologies. CPB also had investment income of $9 million, Dept. of Education grant of $1 million, and refunds of prior grants of $12 million, for total revenue in 2009 of $484 million.

For 2009, the CPB gave direct grants to radio stations of $59 million and to television stations of $203 million. $20 million was used by CPB to pay General and Administrative expenses. If one omits the non-recurring Federal grants for system upgrades, and assuming that everything besides G&A expenses is spent in support of public broadcasting, then $402 million of the CPB's revenue for 2009 is available for operating expenses.

If Congress had de-funded CPB-that becomes $2 million.

Put another way, if the 2009 revenues for NPR and PBS are combined, $152 + $503, the combined revenue of both public broadcasting network operators is $655 million. Remove $400 million and that total becomes $255 million, a reduction in funds of sixty-one percent.


Some little Lefty will bawl that I'm messing with the numbers and I should stick to the operating grants. But hear me out: CPB uses most of it's funds to support public broadcasting in one way or another. Operating grants to NPR and PBS are one thing, but all of the rest of its funds are used in some way to support the endeavor of public broadcasting, upgrading infrastructure, producing programs, etc. If CPB is not there to provide the funds, some other entity will have to provide it. Or the funds must be done without. And activities will decrease.

I've tried to be as conservative as I could with numbers and footnotes, as I am not familiar with the finances and do not have access to relevant details. The public broadcasting Triumvirate of PBS, NPR, AND CPB have very convoluted funding arrangements, so it's often hard for outsiders to discern exactly where money is coming from and where it's going.  But pull funding from CPB and it's like you have have turned the water source off at the main and all the taps within the structure have suddenly, simultaneously gone dry.  

Ok, they still have corporate and foundation grants, funding from various state and local governments, revenues from sales and licensing deals, so it's not quite dry; but the system as constructed cannot survive.  This is the dirty little secret that the public broadcasters don't want you to see and why they have gone into high gear to head this freight train off at the switch. It puts the lie to their assertion that government funding doesn't matter to them.

This was a longer effort than I thought it would be when I started, but I had to finish it to make my points, and I'm glad I did.

One more thing. The advocates for public broadcasting have been making the rounds talking about how the member stations of public broadcasting are often the only source of community information in rural areas. This is utter nonsense and based on a false premise. In 1967, when the Public Broadcasting Act was passed, the idea was to have a network of over the air broadcasters of radio and TV scattered across the land. This model is 44 years old and hopelessly dated.  It's stagnant and needs to be rethought in light of the technological advances since 1967.  There was no penetration of cable, no satellite TV, no satellite radio, no fiber optic connections, cable and telephone carriers weren't competing to deliver the same services. There were three major television networks and some local channels, not the plethora available to every home these days. Hell, we no longer even broadcast over the air the same way since the FCC mandated digital broadcasts.

 As for being the information source for rural areas, that is a big-city stereotype about country folk being poor ignorant, helpless hayseeds who need the guidance of sophisticates from the urban East and West. Even thirty years ago, people in rural areas were using six-foot parabolic dish antennas to access television from satellites that far exceeded local over-the-air offerings. Today, there are competing providers for the small, fixed-dish satellite services that vie with cable for the variety of their programming.

 And what about the idea that these three entities are the only sources of non-commercial (and presumably unbiased) reporting?  Well, I have a question. What about C-SPAN?  Those three channels actually let you see what Congressmen and Senators say (if you can stand it), rather than letting Nina Totenberg play carefully edited snippets and then tell you what it means. And they show events that appeal to both the political right and left, talk with authors who have written books from every point of view, host panels that discuss current events and take calls from viewers. Who funds C-SPAN?  No, the big difference between C-SPAN and the Triumvirate is that C-SPAN is raw and public broadcasting is very, very carefully polished.
There are so many changes in communications technology since this model was created in response to that outdated law. Mandatory broadcast spectrum changes have opened up subchannels for carriers in the digital spectrum. High def radio. And let me not forget, the Internet. So many ways to deliver content. PBS and NPR themselves have widgets for smart phones. No access?

Why not develop a regional strategy for reaching rural areas? Why support 910 radio stations and 354 TV stations? Use regional hubs, deliver the broadcast over cable nationally. Does HBO need 350 facilities to deliver its programming to anyone who wants it? Or use the subchannels available to digital broadcasters (which PBS already is, to target children and such). In my area, one of the two PBS TV stations, WUSF, has gone all digital even carried on cable; it's only available on my one digital tuner, the televisions with basic cable don't get that station. That sure doesn't fit into the 1967 model. Make a deal with SiriusXM for special access to public broadcast content, make it less costly than a regular subscription. After all, they already have fund drives for "subscribers" on NPR and PBS, so make it a formal subscription.

Resistance is f-u-t-i-l-e!
Ah, but maybe that's the problem: the Progressivist model that public broadcasting was designed around is one where everyone pays regardless, your only choice is whether or not you accept the "benefits." At it's core is an authoritarian mindset, never mind the fluffy Muppets on the cover. The more libertarian notion of paying for what you use is anathema to that way of thinking. It has to be "free," which really means "no charge to access."  In my books, $400 million in Federal dollars is a pretty expensive "free."

You need local reporters? Why not let them work from home, send them on assignments as needed regionally? If small hand held cameras or even Skype set-ups are used by the major networks, why not public broadcasting? Rent studio space as needed.

Consolidate facilities. WUSF radio, the college-based station I mentioned above, recently bought  WSMR, another station south of Tampa Bay and they are converting it to NPR to service the Sarasota area and to help them change format for WUSF, one station classical and the other jazz when not broadcasting NPR conent.  Fine, but they are also keeping separate studio facilities rather than stream content to a local broadcast antennae from their existing facility, saving the operating cost of another location.  Why?

Last but not least-accept advertising. You don't have to be NPR all day. There are cable networks that share channels according to the time of day. Why not public broadcasting?

In other words-ADAPT!

But they don't think that way. Because we consistently allow them to avoid it. It isn't because they cannot meet the same needs with different strategies. It's because they prefer it the way it is.